Experts back notion that sleep helps decision-making

June 20th, 2011 - 9:10 pm ICT by IANS  

University of Massachusetts London, June 20 (IANS) The notion that a good night’s sleep helps when making important decisions is now endorsed by scientists.

They say that a good sleep enhances complex cognitive skills necessary for decision-making.

In a first such study of its kind, researchers probed the effects of sleep on affect-guided decision-making — that is decisions on meaningful topics where subjects care about the outcome, Daily Mail reported Monday.

Lead researcher Rebecca Spencer, of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, taught a group of 54 young people to play a card game for rewards of play money in which wins and losses for various card decks mimic casino gambling.

Subjects who had a normal night’s sleep drew from decks that gave them the greatest winnings, four times more often than those who spent the 12-hour break awake, the Mail said quoting the study. Those who were rested also better understood the underlying rules of the game, it said.

“There is something to be gained from taking a night to sleep on it when you’re facing an important decision.

“We found that the fact that you slept makes your decisions better,” Mail said quoting Spencer.

She and her colleagues believe this sleep benefit in making decisions may be due to changes in underlying emotional or cognitive processes.

“Our guess is that this enhanced effect on decision-making is something that depends on rapid-eye-movement or REM sleep, which is the creative period of our sleep cycle,” Spencer added.

The UMass Amherst study used the Iowa Gambling Task, a gambling card game that assesses frontal lobe function, where more emotional decisions originate.

The study was published in the Journal of Sleep Research.

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